Welcome To The Guaranteed Road To Superstardom

Welcome To The Guaranteed Road To Superstardom

How do we become talented? Some people Talent booksmight say we need to show a natural talent for the activity, encouraging parents, lots of practising or luck. These are the kind of comments I have heard and used myself in the past until I read quite a few books on the subject of Talent. Talent is perhaps a word that should seldom be used when labelling or describing young athletes. To become a Talent involves something that we can all do and does not require being a natural or a talent. It is called practice.

Having read these books I discovered the 10,000 hour theory. I knew then how important my role was to help others become a professional sports person and how much I could have an impact on our next generation of athletes.

I want to discuss the 10,000 hour theory and late specialisation specific to team sports that will propel you to superstardom. I will explain how deep practice relates to Strength & Conditioning and its fundamental role in developing athletes.

10,000 Hour Theory

Theorists believe that it takes 10,000 hours of deep, deliberate or purposeful practise to become an expert. In real terms that many hours would equate to 4 hours of practice 5 days a week for 10 years. A challenging route for many aspiring athletes. Before you send your child or footballers off to regular daily practices, children at the age of 6 years would practice for less hours in comparison to a 14 year old. Let’s go into a bit of detail about deep practice.

deep practice picDeep practise, researched by Anders Ericsson and colleagues, is quite specific. Deep practise is characterised by several elements:

1. Deep practice is an activity designed specifically to improve performance
2. Often with a teachers help
3. It can be repeated a lot
4. Feedback on results is continuously available
5. It is highly demanding mentally, physically or both
6. It isn’t much fun

This is true, not all exercise is fun. Let’s move on before you chastise me!

According to a panel of experts on youth training, exercises such as hopping, throwing, jumping, catching, sprinting are key areas for athletic development and are considered deep or purposeful practice.

Late specialisation vs. Early specialisation

There are possible problems associated with starting children at a young age solely in one sport – Early Specialisation. Early specialisation in a team sport might lead to injury and dropping out of the sport.

Too many athletes, coaches and parents have taken the 10,000 hour theory and ran with it. I read a blog by Mike Boyle (a very well respected Strength & Conditioning Coach. Follow him at http://www.strengthcoach.com) and he wrote that young athletes should develop overall athleticism by playing a variety of sports and perhaps athletes should specialise in their teens – Late Specialisation. Participating In different sports throughout the year motivates athletes and reduces their chances of developing injuries by playing the same sport performing the same movements all year round.

Early Specialisation In Individual and Team Sports

In my experience as a Strength & Conditioning

Open your eyes...

Open your eyes…

Coach I hear with regularity that athletes needed to commit to 16 hours per week. I was curious to why this figure was being employed? Finding this information on the 10,000 hours theory made sense as to why children were being encouraged to commit that many hours per week. Mark Cavendish spoke about this hourly commitment in his book ‘Boy Racer’ whilst he was a junior training with the national squad. I have worked with several national junior swimmers and tennis players who also spoke of similar hours. Here comes the bad news – they had many dysfunctions.

I also experienced a specific mentality whilst working with professional football players, they believed to get better they needed to practice more. They had many dysfunctions. This is the same with runners. They believe to get faster you need to run more. Runners also had many dysfunctions. Within the wide range of sports people I have trained, dysfunctions are common.

Do you know what happens to the majority of athletes who practice without participating in a Strength & Conditioning programme? Fatigue, overtraining, a decrease in performance and more often than not injury occurs.

“Performance enhancement is always second to injury reduction” Mike Boyle (2010).

What I did with these athletes was to reduce their hours training in their sport and use that time to do Strength & Conditioning. We can never tell how quickly an improvement in performance may happen but the important point here is that a structured and comprehensive Strength & Conditioning programme should form an essential part of an athletes training regime whether they participate in a team or individual sport.

The Answers

If we provide Strength & Conditioning to individual and team sports starting at a young age and at grass roots level we could perhaps see an increase in athletes and prolong athletic careers.

Strength & Conditioning is deep practice. Deep practice is the road to superstardom.

My post does not go into depth about the 10,000 hour theory. There are many factors for an athlete to be a success. I would advise you read a few of the books I have listed preferably one of the first three books.




1. Bounce by Mathew Syed
2. Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
3. Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
4. The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley
5. Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
6. Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential by Carol Dweck
7. What Makes An Olympic Champion? Gold Rush by Michael Johnson
8. Jonny My Autobiography by Jonny Wilkinson
9. Size Doesn’t Matter by Neil Back
10. Red by Gary Neville
11. Gerrard My Autobiography by Steven Gerrard
12. Advances In Functional Training by Mike Boyle


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